Lion head casts - a roaring success?

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Six casts of a lion head from a Liverpool fountain

Lion head casts in the sculpture conservation studio

While sculpture conservation are best known for their work repairing large monuments, they also do a lot of smaller scale, more delicate work. On a recent visit I saw this batch of cast lion heads in the studio. The casts have been made as part of a scheme to restore some of Liverpool's historic drinking fountains, funded by United Utilities and the Liverpool Culture Company.

Lion head spout from fountain, with repaired jawChildren hold an original lion head spout from a fountain, with a new jaw made by conservation technologies

Conservation technologies have replicated the lion head spouts from the fountains, which was quite a challenge as only the only remaining original head had a broken jaw. A new jaw was modelled, based on old photos of the fountains, then the casts were taken from this.

The original head is shown on the right, held by children from local primary schools at the launch of the project in July. An education programme has involved Liverpool children in a range of projects about the fountains, with some even composing their own 'water music'.

The new casts should be appearing on fountains near you (if you live in the Liverpool area) soon. The Woolton Road Melly fountain is the first of four that are being considered for renovation.  The others are located at East Prescot Road, West Derby Road, and Chapel Street.

Terry Chapman of United Utilities said: "When these fountains were first introduced in the 1850s it was a tremendous breakthrough in public health - and these are beautiful civic monuments in their own right which deserve to be restored."

The project has been supported by the Libraries and Regeneration Departments of Liverpool City Council, National Museums Liverpool, The National Trust and Friends of Liverpool Monuments.